Humidity - again

57joonya

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I'm somewhat surprised at the lack of interest in this. Three likes and no comments. Oh well, it is the single most important thing you can be doing right now.

My friend brought his guitar over on Wednesday of last week. Last night, Friday, I heard my phone ping and saw his name. I thought "oh crap, we didn't catch it in time and his brand new D-18 just split". When I read the text he said that the guitar was making a great recovery and he wanted to thank me. Three days is pretty fast, I expected it to take 30 or more. I told him that in a week or two we would look at the action and deal with the frets. But for right now at least we managed to dodge a very big one.
Your a good friend , helping him out like this . Hopefully he learns from this and cares enough to take proper care of it from here on out . I’ve seen this too many times with nice martins
 

57joonya

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I'm the one who thought it might have split. It couldn't go any lower, the next step was to split up the center seam. I didn't expect it to respond so quickly and when I saw who the text was from I just figured the worst.

Normally I would have shimmed the saddle so he could play it but I couldn't get the saddle out and I didn't want to risk breaking it. With luck if the top comes back up the action will be close to where it was before, we can decide what to do about it then.

I'm quite sure that a new Martin should have the care and feeding instructions in the case. I'm a little disappointed that the shop that sold it to him (a very good one, by the way) didn't talk to him about the care of his new 2500 dollar guitar and they should have thrown in a humidifier.

I posted this thread and a comment on the "Whats on your Workbench" thread it hopes that it will save someone else the heart ache.
Totally agree on this point . No the shops don’t say squat about it , and you may be right . There might be a thing about proper care in the Martin case . But I was pleasantly surprised to find in my new Gibson case -two humidifier packs . One in sound hole , and one up under the headstock . I bought a custom shop Martin acoustic last summer, (which I traded for Gibson) and it didn’t have any such thing unfortunately. Not that it’s a huge thing to buy . But probably$30 or so . I thought it was awesome that Gibson took care of that - and to a lot of musicians , that might just open their eyes up about proper care - seeing the humidifier on the actual guitar. Smart.
 

Resojazznblues

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I only have my steel tricone now and keep a D'Addario Humi-Pak in the case. I think they work great at maintaining consistent proper humidity levels in the case. I sometimes think the guitars being mass produced the last ten years have more problems with humidity because the timber used isn't cured as long or as well. Many of us live in pre-WWII homes, and all those great pre war Martin and Gibson acoustics were kept in them as new. No humidity systems, lack of insulation, traveled in vehicles with poor or no heat, and more open than today. Plenty of the vintage have survived. I think it is a bigger concern today because the timber used is "green." We should all properly take care of our instruments though. I am glad there are so many different options today.
 

Flat6Driver

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Totally agree on this point . No the shops don’t say squat about it , and you may be right . There might be a thing about proper care in the Martin case . But I was pleasantly surprised to find in my new Gibson case -two humidifier packs . One in sound hole , and one up under the headstock . I bought a custom shop Martin acoustic last summer, (which I traded for Gibson) and it didn’t have any such thing unfortunately. Not that it’s a huge thing to buy . But probably$30 or so . I thought it was awesome that Gibson took care of that - and to a lot of musicians , that might just open their eyes up about proper care - seeing the humidifier on the actual guitar. Smart.


I bought my Martin new at Guitar Center and the sales guy said something to the effect of "you had better buy one of these humidipack systems or I'll beat you up". Not quite, but close. I had planned on it anyhow.
 

Recce

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For those that say their guitars sound better depending on the humidity, can you define that a bit? I have days where I don't like the sound of my guitar for some reason but I have always blamed it on my playing, mood, or lack of inspiration.
There are times when my playing is poor which makes the guitar sound bad. But, when the humidity is higher and there is more moisture in the wood the guitar doesn’t ring and resonate as much. It sounds duller. When the humidity drops the guitar sounds crisper and better. It rings more. It sounds clearer. This is mainly with an acoustic guitar.
 

Boreas

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I think too much humidity and your acoustic tends to get a little dull sounding . You know , the wood being more wet, maybe doesn’t react in the same way as dryer wood - or wood with proper moisture content- it’s not going to vibrate as much if it’s too damp. I noticed that this summer. My guitar was too damp, and i should have done more to keep it dryer .
Yeah, on a solid wood acoustic, the moisture also slightly increases the mass of the the wood and swells it - especially the thin top which is mostly responsible for tone. When I have encountered this condition in other's guitars, they sound flubby, mushy, and weak. These instruments need to be slowly brought back to the proper moisture content because they give up the moisture unevenly - just as they absorb it unevenly. Trying to force proper humidification too fast can lead to glue joint cracks as well as wood cracks and warps.
 

Boreas

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I only have my steel tricone now and keep a D'Addario Humi-Pak in the case. I think they work great at maintaining consistent proper humidity levels in the case. I sometimes think the guitars being mass produced the last ten years have more problems with humidity because the timber used isn't cured as long or as well. Many of us live in pre-WWII homes, and all those great pre war Martin and Gibson acoustics were kept in them as new. No humidity systems, lack of insulation, traveled in vehicles with poor or no heat, and more open than today. Plenty of the vintage have survived. I think it is a bigger concern today because the timber used is "green." We should all properly take care of our instruments though. I am glad there are so many different options today.
Those early guitars were also constructed of old-growth wood which often had very straight, tight grain. Adirondack spruce was notoriously slow-growing. Old-growth wood was simply was better wood for building many acoustic instruments. But as we soon found out, superb, old-growth wood doesn't just grow on trees. My 90 year-old house has some 14-20" planks for the main roofing material. They were the plywood of their day. Try to find a 20" plank of straight, solid wood today.
 

PhredE

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This is a concern for me also.

One inadvertent adaption that has evolved is this: when the temp drops and the wood stove gets used a lot (+some electric heat), we tend to drink much more tea (boiling the water the old fashioned way) and coffee as well. So there's more humidification taking place when it's cool out and the humidity drops inside.
 

Jared Purdy

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I know you folks are sick of me harping about humidity this time of the year (for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere) and if your guitars are all properly hydrated good for you. A friend bought a brand new D18 this fall and brought it by my house today.

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I think we caught it before any real damage was done. Its on a forced hydration diet right now and in a month or so I'll dress the fret ends and do a new setup.

Ya, that top should be going in the other direction!

I've always been anal with regards to keeping my OM28 Marquis in it's case, with two Oasis humidifiers going. But it was a couple of years ago that I discovered I needed to do the same with my electrics. I use to keep my 2011 CS Strat out on the stand all the time, all year, even during the "furnace months". One day I noticed how badly the fret ends were protruding. I immediately dug out two small tupper ware containers, poked a bunch of holes in the lids, got some sponges, soaked them, put them in the case with the guitar, closed the lid and left it in there for two weeks. Problem solved!

I do the same with my LP, only I use an Oasis humidifier owing to a lack of space in the case. Seems to work. I've checked the humidity in all of them by putting a small hydrometer in the cases with the lids closed, and it hovers around 50-55%. I also have two humidifiers going 24/7, and that still is not enough to keep the humidity in the house - most of the time - even at 45%.
 

That Cal Webway

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I definitely humidify my acoustic and have a room humidifier for the electrics, acoustic.
I have the old school D'addario sponge thing I put in the sound hole, but also I put a plastic hand soap cover I punched holes in the top, and put it in the case with the guitar to humidify the outside of the guitar.

I've seen too many acoustics at our really good repairmen's, or friends of mine that are dried out in the winter, with funky tops or fret ends doing their thing.

Kids, don't do winter cracks!!
 

Boreas

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This is a concern for me also.

One inadvertent adaption that has evolved is this: when the temp drops and the wood stove gets used a lot (+some electric heat), we tend to drink much more tea (boiling the water the old fashioned way) and coffee as well. So there's more humidification taking place when it's cool out and the humidity drops inside.
More "humidification" does not necessarily equate to higher humidity. A kettle on a stove certainly helps, it won't replace a good room/house humidifier if your environment is particularly dry. Even having allotta plants helps stabilize the humidity indoors.
 

Boreas

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Ya, that top should be going in the other direction!

I've always been anal with regards to keeping my OM28 Marquis in it's case, with two Oasis humidifiers going. But it was a couple of years ago that I discovered I needed to do the same with my electrics. I use to keep my 2011 CS Strat out on the stand all the time, all year, even during the "furnace months". One day I noticed how badly the fret ends were protruding. I immediately dug out two small tupper ware containers, poked a bunch of holes in the lids, got some sponges, soaked them, put them in the case with the guitar, closed the lid and left it in there for two weeks. Problem solved!

I do the same with my LP, only I use an Oasis humidifier owing to a lack of space in the case. Seems to work. I've checked the humidity in all of them by putting a small hydrometer in the cases with the lids closed, and it hovers around 50-55%. I also have two humidifiers going 24/7, and that still is not enough to keep the humidity in the house - most of the time - even at 45%.
If you are relying on table-top humidifiers, do yourself a favor and get one or more console room/house units. The bigger the space, the more horsepower you need.
 

Tarkus60

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So how low of humidity are we talking about?
My humidity is 39% in my house , even with a 125 gallon aquarium.
My Martin has a case humidifier, but my electrics are on stands.
 

Boreas

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So how low of humidity are we talking about?
My humidity is 39% in my house , even with a 125 gallon aquarium.
My Martin has a case humidifier, but my electrics are on stands.
At that humidity, I doubt your electrics are in any immediate danger, but your fingers may be from seasonal fret sprout.
 

PhredE

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More "humidification" does not necessarily equate to higher humidity. A kettle on a stove certainly helps, it won't replace a good room/house humidifier if your environment is particularly dry. Even having allotta plants helps stabilize the humidity indoors.

Yeah, very true. Good point. Being west of the Cascades, we're mostly wet and humid from fall into spring. Summer is a very different story though. Leading up to XMas and until yesterday, we had a blast of cold+wet that probably wasn't considered 'historic', but enough so that most of the local population is Vitamin D deficient.
Another trick I've learned is to park the good acoustic guitar in the [secondary, relatively unused..] bathroom.
 

Boreas

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Another IMPORTANT but usually overlooked issue is calibration of all of your humidity-sensing devices. I have 4-5 scattered throughout my house and guitar storage areas, and they ALL read differently!! The readings also vary a great deal. I have 3 of the same brand that all read differently lying on the same table! There are numerous vids on YT showing how to calibrate units with a bag of salt. Few of mine can be adjusted, so I just have to place a sticker showing +/- x amount.
 

Telekarster

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We have 2 electric humidifiers, each is 3 gallon, that we refill probably twice a day. It's amazing how hard it is to get a home up to the proper humidity/temp levels, and keep it there. Your friend was darn lucky Freeman! He needs to invest in a humidifier or something! You don't suppose that, perhaps, he had it hanging on the wall above a baseboard heater or something? Just seems amazing that level of dehydration...
 

Leonardocoate

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Now I want a carbon fiber guitar! I do nothing to manage humidity. My amber and poly maple necks are hardly effected by humidity, but my rosewood necks need a lot of adjusting. I live in southern Ohio where the weather patterns are constantly changing (2 days ago it was 10 today it is 40) Controlling humidity around here is more of an art form. It is gonna be between 10% to 70% any given week. My nylon string guitar became more stable when I started using low tension strings. My concert mini doesn't seem to be effected very much. Maybe, being a shorter scale puts less tension on the neck. I just don't want to worry about it. That's one of the reasons I won't pay more than a $1,000 for a guitar
 

Boreas

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Now I want a carbon fiber guitar! I do nothing to manage humidity. My amber and poly maple necks are hardly effected by humidity, but my rosewood necks need a lot of adjusting. I live in southern Ohio where the weather patterns are constantly changing (2 days ago it was 10 today it is 40) Controlling humidity around here is more of an art form. It is gonna be between 10% to 70% any given week. My nylon string guitar became more stable when I started using low tension strings. My concert mini doesn't seem to be effected very much. Maybe, being a shorter scale puts less tension on the neck. I just don't want to worry about it. That's one of the reasons I won't pay more than a $1,000 for a guitar
WOW! Those are pretty huge variations!! Are those indoor or outdoor readings? Are you sure your humidity gauge is working OK? Actual 10% indoor humidity in Ohio? Are you using an electric blast furnace for heat? Not that I doubt your word but I have lived in southern IN, NW PA, central NY, and I currently live up in the Adirondacks with some fairly extreme weather, but have never read below 25% in a non-humidified house.
 

Freeman Keller

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That's better. Got you folks thinking about it, that's all I wanted. If you don't have to worry about humidity, you're lucky. If you know about it and do something about it you're smart. If you know about it but do nothing, you're....
 




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